Report Documents Right-Wing Campaign To Capture Federal Courts

Media 09.17,04

Washington, D.C. – Judicial nominations have been the focal point of far right-wing efforts to seize control and change the direction of the federal courts, according to a new report, released today by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund (LCCREF), the education and research arm of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition.

The report, “Turning Right: Judicial Selection and the Politics of Power,” documents a concerted, systematic, long-term, highly focused effort to recast the federal courts through the selection and appointment of right-wing conservatives committed to rolling back civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy advances made during the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s.

“Under-reported by the press, the far Right’s campaign to undermine 50 years of progress for individual, civil, and workers’ rights has resulted in the nomination and Senate approval to lifetime appointments of judges intent on limiting our rights and liberties,” said Karen McGill Lawson, Executive Director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund.

According to the report, “Many of the men and women President George W. Bush has nominated to the federal bench have built their careers at the ideological fringe of the law – calling for tax breaks for universities that practice racial discrimination, gutting Congress’ power to pass civil rights laws, eliminating the role of the federal government in protecting the rights of workers, and eliminating federal protections for the environment, among other things.”

The report also concludes that “What is at stake in the fight over judicial nominations is the continued ability of Congress to protect our civil rights and fundamental freedoms: the right to be free from discrimination based on race, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability; the right to organize in a union and be protected by national labor standards; the right to clean air and water; and the right to equal opportunity in employment and education for all Americans.”

“Recognizing the importance of the courts in protecting individual and civil rights, the right wing has sought to diminish the Constitutional independence of these courts and undermine the Constitution’s ‘advise and consent’ responsibility of the U.S. Senate,” said Lawson.

“To resolve the break-down in the confirmation process, our report recommends that the President and Senate leaders agree on a fair-minded and neutral process to identify the most qualified jurists for appointment to the federal courts,” said Lawson.

The report is available at: /publications/reports/judges/